Here’s a gallery of new labels and updated old labels from both Dogfish Head and 16 Mile breweries. Dogfish Head continues to update the look of their 12oz bottles and adds a new beer to their shelf product, while 16 Mile begins its redesigning and adds a new beer as well.
A lot of craft beer buzzing has been made in my area recently when DFH announced that the next in their line of musical inspired beers, “Beer Thousand”, inspired by the 20th anniversary of Guided by Voices album Bee Thousand would soon be available in both bomber and 12oz bottles. Possibly overlooked with that announcement is that their previous release in the series, American Beauty, was making its second appearance on beer shelves.
The “music series” as I like to call it refers to a series of beer that DFH releases that takes its inspiration from an artist or group in the the musical world. Some, to me, are fairly obvious like Hell Hound on My Ale which is a nod to the late, great Robert Johnson (one of my fav blues players [I realize that’s probably boarder line cliche] and one of my favorite DFH beers), to acts that I probably should be ashamed to say I’ve never heard of like Deltron 3030, which was the inspiration for DFH’s Positive Contact.
It really should be no surprise (at least in hindsight it’s not to me) that sooner or later DFH would land on the improvisational, jam band The Grateful Dead to inspire a beer. And inspire they did. Not only is the beer named after the band’s double platinum certified 1970 album, but DFH took this opportunity, inspired (there’s that word again) by the grass roots element of the band, to do what they have done with several of their beers – rely on crowd sourcing for the ingredients. DFH pooled the Grateful Dead fans as to what they felt would be excellent ingredients for the definitive Grateful Dead beer and received a good number of suggestions (20% of which Sam says were illegal) and the one that stood out the most was granola (organic naturally).
While casual outsiders may associate the Grateful Dead more for tie-dyed shirts and the willingness to allow concert members to record shows; those who followed the band and spent many hours in the park lots before those concerts also equate the band with the granola that sustained them while they awaited their favorite band to hit the stage. One aspect of this crowd sourcing was that each submission had to come with a story as to why the suggested ingredient made a connection with that person to the Grateful Dead, and Tom Butler’s story was chosen from the granola suggesters which allowed him and his father to go to the brewery and take part in the brewing of American Beauty.
If you think about it, granola is a slam dunk in beer recipes. Consisting of things like rolled oats, nuts, honey, rice and dried fruits, this health food staple isn’t very far from things that brewers would use in beers naturally. So this beer should be pretty straight forward, right?. Is it? Let’s taste.
THEM: American Beauty is designated as an Imperial Pale Ale brewed with all-American malts and hops, so I’m expecting a pop of hop, but not in the IPA/DIPA range. Orange blossom honey granola from Grizzly’s Granola in Eugene Oregon, was added to the hot side of the beer. The newish hop #366 hop was used for both aroma and locking in the 55IBUs, and the alcohol measures in at 9%ABV.
Hop #366 is an experimental variety that several of the breweries are playing with now. A relative of Warrior, this hop is supposed to bring all sorts of good things to the party; citrus, tropical fruit, floral, herbal characteristics, lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper. It still is referred too as #366 in a lot of places, although it’s apparently been named Equinox(TM) by its developers, The Hop Breeding Company. Besides American Beauty you can find it in Brooklyn’s Scorcher, and a version of Lagunitas Sucks.
ME: This is really nice. As I hoped, the hops are not overly done here but they do bring a nice citrus to the party. I was getting a little lemon in the mix along with a touch of pine, and when it warmed it actually had a little tea quality going on. The subdued hops allow the malt, grain, honey and a nutty quality of the beer to shine through that for me is the really beauty of this American beer (I know, malt over hops? Blasphemy!). The booze hides pretty well while the beer is cold, but you can detect a bit of the warmth the closer to room temperature it gets (although you might not want to let it get as close to room temperature as I did. I poured my second glass and then walked away from it and got side tracked). The carbonation is just the way I love it (if it’s not overly nerdy to geek out over carbonation). The head is pretty good and doesn’t fade totally away after the initial pour, but I love the rush of bubbles that’s formed in the liquid that’s at the edge of the glass (plus the sparkling lace that’s left behind) when you tilt the glass back and forth. I may have to post a video of that one day just so everyone knows what I’m talking about. It really is a good looking, and good tasting, beer in the glass.
I’m actually sad I waited so long to review this beer as I probably would have picked up several bottles and enjoyed it on draft a couple of times over that past months. Luckily, as I said above, DFH given me a chance to atone for my mistake by releasing another bottling onto the shelves pretty soon. Thanks guys! Time for another beer…
[Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer. All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]
Well, unlike my up coming review of Hellhound on by Ale, I have very little say before I review this beer. To be honest I didn’t even know it was part of the musical series until just a few months ago.
Positive Contact is named after a key track on Dan and Del the Funkee Homosapien’s 2000 release, Deltron 3030, an adventurous hip-hop album that took over a decade to make. Initially the beer only came in a 6-bottle set including a vinyl LP and recipes (Dan is a bit of a chef, and Positive Contact was brewed using his favorite hand-picked ingredients). But now you can find the beer on its own pretty easily.
THEM: Positive Contact is a beer/cider hybrid, brewed with Fuji apples, roasted farro, cayenne peppers and fresh cilantro. Of all these ingredients, the one most likely to send people scurrying to Wikipedia is farro. Don’t bother. I quote, “The exact definition is debated.” There ya go. But I can tell you that in general farro is whole grains of wheat that have been cooked in hot water. Where the definition gets cloudy is WHICH grains are actually used. Three specific grains (including spelt) in Italy are referred to as farro. Although in some places barley and farro are used interchangeable. I would assume that in this case the farro being described is a roasted grain, and wouldn’t be surprised if it was something other than barley. Or else they probably would have just said, roasted barley. The beer has 26 IBUs and a respectable 9% ABV.
ME: PC pours a nice golden color with a slight haze. The first whiff is full of things that remind me of Belgian and earthy tones. After your nose gets used to it, you get a clean apple aroma with a slight touch of floral. The flavor has some nice malt with a crispness that no doubt comes from the cider element of the brew. As I sip the beer the malt is more bready than caramel in nature, and after the beer warmed up I did detect more of the apple. The finish is clean with a little bite that doesn’t seem like a hop bitterness. The after taste is clean, but sweet, has a very slight touch of heat and just barely hides the 9%ABV in the beer.
I was very disappointed with the lack of cilantro I was able to taste in the beer. I love cilantro, and like to think I’m pretty good at recognizing its taste. But I didn’t really get any in this beer. The heat was understated, which it has to be in Positive Contact. There’s not a lot here to cover up a lot of heat, so it needs to be subtle, and it is.
Rating – Glass. Nice to try more than a few sips of, but this isn’t some thing I really need to have again. But I’ll be honest, it was drinking pretty good on that hot Sunday afternoon. For educational purposes I would order it on draft if I see it, to see if the cilantro is more predominant.
Delaware. Or as some people like to joke, DelaWHERE? My own little 2,490 square mile slice of craft beer USA that a lot of people just can’t seem to figure out. A bizarre contour that allows me to visit three other states (NJ, MD, PA) by traveling only 20 minutes from where I live, but yet I could get to Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore to enjoy a DFH beer quicker than I could drive down to the brewpub in Rehobeth to drink one (and depending on traffic, some days I could make Blind Tiger in NYC faster as well). The state that brought you George Thorogood, Dallas Green, “Sugar Ray” Leonard, Valerie Bertinelli, our current Vice-President Joe Biden (I leave you to decide if you should be thanking us for that), and more Du Ponts than you can fling a Teflon frying pan at.
I would tell people all the time that from a craft beer perspective, Delaware was a pretty great place to live. Washington, Baltimore and NYC with all their breweries and craft beer bars are only day trips away. Pennsylvania has a nice collection of brewers dotted over its south-east corner, all within a short distance. But within the last 15 or so years, Delaware has been slowly building into to craft beer force of its own. We now claim home to industry giant Dogfish Head, to Argilla Brewing, which head brewer Steve Powell started in a family pizza business with a 1.5 barrel system – to everything in between.
Oh, we’ve stumbled along the way. Marty Haugh worked hard to get the laws changed in Delaware so that he could open up the state’s first microbrewery Rockford Brewing, only to see the business not take hold, and sadly eventually close. Brandywine Brewing flourished for awhile, even opening a second location in the heart of Wilmington only to eventually fall by the way side. Downtown Brewing came and went.
But as the resurgence of craft beer began, establishments did start to take a major foot hold. Stewarts Brewing survived and still enjoys a healthy business today, recently celebrating their 18th birthday. Iron Hill started what would soon become a 9 location mini-chain in Newark. Old Dominion and Fordham joined forces to become a major brewing entity in Dover. Twin Lakes, Evolution and 16-Mile all opened and remain active. And when Evolution stepped over the state line into Maryland, 3rd Wave filled the void it created, literally moving into Evolution’s old building. And right now, Mispillion River and Smokestack Lightening are working hard at their start-up breweries.
Yes, I think from a craft beer perspective Delaware is a pretty nice place to live. So when Bryan over at This Is Why I’m Drunk asked me to participate in his Six-Pack Project, I gladly accepted. The format is very simple. I’m tasked with creating a “Delaware Craft Beer” six-pack. The beers should best represent Delaware brewing and her culture. I can only select shelf product – meaning no keg-only beers. The shelf product can be any form or size I wish. Current seasonals are OK, but in general they’re discouraged. Sound easy? Let’s find out.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking “well of course he’s going to include DFH”. Guilty, although I’m going with this beer for a reason. Delaware is know as the “First State”, and Delawareans hold that description very dearly. It was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution (which is where the nickname comes from), it was the first state to fly the Stars and Strips, held the first beauty contest, introduced the first Christmas Seals, passed the first Coastal Zone Act and (to my knowledge) the first state to tell another state to go F*@& itself (sorry PA, nothing but love for you).
So with that in mind, any discussion of Delaware beer should include Shelter Pale Ale, as it was the first beer brewed by Sam Calagione at his Rehoboth Beach brewpub. But sadly, DFH apparently not longer bottles Shelter Pale Ale, which is fine because I want to talk about 90 Minute IPA anyway. Although it seems a little backwards, 90M IPA proceeded it’s thirty minute shorter brother 60M IPA onto the market by two years, making it the first (there’s that word again) in what would be DFH’s continuously hopped series. The concept that started it was simple, continually introduce hops throughout the 90 minute boil. Oh, and just to keep the theme going, have it clock in at 90 IBUs and 9.0%ABV. The fact that this beer has a mixture of hops continuously added to it for 90 minutes (plus dry hopping) would make one think that this thing is just hop water. Don’t buy it. Not for a second. It is…ah, I don’t want to say it…hop forward, with notes of citrus and resin in the nose and flavor. But there’s enough malt to balance everything out, and dangerously hide the 9% ABV. I’ve always thought the continuously hopped beers had a smoothness to them. A mouth feel on the palette that borders on creamy. There’s a slight hop prick (which is about four notches below a burn) in the cheeks and a crisp, lingering finish. An IPA lovers IPA .
One of the beliefs the Brewer’s Association has about craft breweries is that “Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism, and sponsorship of events.”
In this regard Delaware Craft Breweries (along with beer bars) excel.
– Fordam/Old Dominion partner every year for Hogs and Hops which last year raised $15,000 for the local FOP’s emergency relief fund.
– Argilla Brewing partnered with BELVEDERE FIRE CO during their Fall Festival to help raise funds for the local fire company.
– Twin Lakes host The Wilmington Burger Battle which benefits the Emmanuel Dining Room a local program that feeds the needy.
– Two Stones Pub hosts the “Giving on Tap” which benefits the local Meals on Wheels program.
In that tradition I offer you Responders Ale. Brewed by 16-Mile Brewery (which gets its name because it’s Georgetown location is 16 miles from anywhere in the county it resides in) an English styled ale with a touch of wheat that is clean and drinkable, with notes of hay and citrus. I’m not going to lie, this beer isn’t going to blow you away with it’s light biscuit/cracker base and mild, but balance hops, but it’s nicely constructed, and has a very pleasant aftertaste. In the spirit of the BA’s statement, $3 from every case and $5 from every keg of Responders Ale is donated to the National Fallen Fire Fighers Foundation.
With the Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball team, The University of Delaware football team, and two major NASCAR events; Delawareans are no strangers to tailgating. And although we may not be spoken in the same breath as Kansas City, Memphis, etc; we’re no slouches when it comes to the backyard cookout or barbecue either.
But as everyone knows, when you get your friends together for some grill/cookout type food, you should have a good beer to go with it. Enter Greenville Pale Ale. The beer, brewed with American 2-row along with cascade hops presents itself as a pretty straight forward pale ale, but has a slight spiciness that I think makes it an awesome food beer, whether you’re serving hotdogs, burgers, crabs, shrimp, or pulled pork. It’s probably not going to go toe-to-toe with huge, deep BBQ sauces, but really, does it need to? Sometimes you just need something to cleanse your palette with before your next bite of ribs or BBQ chicken. I’ll admit, I’ve been drinking the crap out of this beer all summer. Twin Lakes was also nice enough to package Greenville in the tailgate friendly can. Bottle snob? Get over it.
Ok, so I’m going to cross into Bryan’s “it’s OK, but I really wish you wouldn’t” territory. But I think with good reason. It’s summer as I write this, and in Delaware summer for many people means one thing – beaches. Every weekend all summer long, thousands of people brave the congestion that is “beach traffic” to claim their own small spot on our sandy shores – whether it’s in Rehoboth, Bethany, Dewey or Lewes. Many go for the sunshine and salt water, many go for the night life, and some just go for the Grotto Pizza (where Tracey slaved her summer, college youth away), Thrashers Fries and Snyders Candy.
And of course, everyone needs a good beach beer. Why not Old Dominion Brewing’s Beach House Golden Pilsner? A Bohemian style Pilsner, brewed with Tettanger, Perle, and Saaz hops, this beer has an awesome crispness in the back that is really the highlight. The nose is subdued, with a slight touch of grassy hops and what comes across to me as honey. The malt is there, light, almost bready. Plainly said, this is a rock solid pilsner, and is a perfect beer for washing the beach heat out of your mouth. It probably would also go well with a slice of Grotto’s pizza.
If Stouts represented the Baldwin family of actors, than the oyster stouts would be the youngest (the first record of oysters used in the brewing a stout was until 1929) brother Stephen. Good, serviceable, and for some reason someone that no one thinks of until they see him and go, “oh yeah”. Many people cringe at this style and really shouldn’t. When done properly oyster stouts are smoother, less dry than their well known brothers and are just a pleasure to drink. And Fordham’s is done properly.
Rosie Parks (which is named after a legendary skipjack that once dredged for oysters on the Chesapeake Bay) is built on a grain bill of CaraMunich, Wheat, Chocolate, and Roast; and hopped with Bravo and Glacier. Rosie is pure smooth drinking from front to back, with light chocolate and (even lighter) roasted notes, along with that kiss of mineral that comes from the added oyster shells. The finish is clean and not bitter (24 IBUs) and the after taste is simply a slight roastiness. This is one of my favorite styles of beer and I happen to know that it’s also a favorite of Michael Stiglitz, owner of Two Stones Pub. So I think that puts me in good company. The skipjack Rosie Parks is currently being renovated by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
And that leaves me with one more. Oh yeah, I could give you another DFH beer, but let’s be honest, if you ever get to my little state they will probably be on your list anyway (and to that end I recommend Theobroma, Hellhound on My Ale, Chateau Jiahu, and any of the continuously hopped beers, especially 120-Minute if you can find it). So instead I’m going to suggest a beer that you might actually walk past, but definitely should not.
A while back, Old Dominion released a beer called GiGi’s Farmhouse Ale. The beer was only distributed in 22oz bottles and as a nod of these size bottles being known as “bomber bottles”, OD’s label artwork payed homage to the old pin-up woman and bomber-nose paintings of World War Two. Soon, Double D IPA and Morning Glory (an espresso stout) joined the line up. The beers were so well received that OD released Double D and Morning Glory in 12oz six-packs, and later bottled GiGi’s in 12oz bottles to include it with the other two as part of a “Pin-up 12-pack”. GiGi’s will be replaced in September with Candi, a Belgian Tripel.
Double D IPA is built on Pale, Munich and Chocolate Malts, and hopped with Zythos, Crystal, Citra and Bravo. The beer has a light floral/grapefruit nose. The taste is well balanced, with the hops slightly out front, but it’s probably close enough to be a photo finish. The hops are again grapefruity, a touch of rind, and some pine that builds up after a bit. The 90 IBUs gives you a light kiss at the end, but nothing harsh, or creepy. Double D manages to hide it’s 10% ABV pretty well. So mark her “D” for dangerous.
Double D is solidly constructed and a damn fine IPA. If you get a chance to pass through our state, don’t miss the chance to pick her and her sisters up. You’ll be glad you did.
I’d like to thank Bryan for asking me to be a participant in his Six-Pack Project. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing what everyone else has written about their respective states. If you’re new to my blog, I hope you stick around. I will be focusing on Dogfish Head beers all through August. If not, thanks for stopping by anyway, and I encourage you to check out the rest of this month’s Six-Pack contributors: